a slice of: chocolate red wine cake with spiced goat cheese frosting

Merry 3rd day of Christmas!

I love the Christian liturgical calendar's pace of celebration.

Yes, while the rest of the world views advent as a time to eat chocolates and sing joyful songs, we’re the odd ones in the midst of a penitential season. We understand advent as a time of anticipation—of acknowledging the need for the coming Savior.

And oh, this advent season, we saw the need for the return of the Prince of Peace. The One who holds those dying in Aleppo, the One who comforts the families of those killed in Berlin, the One who begs our many divisions cease.

We spend the season reflecting on words that sound nice—hope, peace, joy, love—but that require we put our bodies and our finances and our families on the line, that we do not look away from suffering or injustice, that we step into the messiness of life as Jesus did. We hold on to a surety that, even when the world appears hopeless, injustice threatens any semblance of peace, mourning wins out over joy, and hatred rises to the highest positions of authority, God is still at work reconciling the world and we are called to take part.

But when the 25th of December finally comes around, we end our season of penitence in twelve full days of celebration. Twelve days made so much sweeter by the fact that we walk into them poignantly aware of the desperate need for the Savior we honor. Twelve days of feasting that prepare us to continue in the hard work of justice ahead.

Today is the third day of Christmastide, our season of celebration, and in honor I’ve brought you a tasty little cake.

If it’s too much to eat sweets for all these twelve days, I recommend you give it a try on day seven or eight—you’re sure to want something rich for your New Year’s soiree.

Just a word of warning, not all of the alcohol cooks out. So unless you want the kids to fall soundly asleep, this one might need to be saved for the adults.

chocolate red wine cake with spiced goat cheese frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup red wine

red wine syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup red wine
Mulling Spices: 1 star anise, 2 cloves, 1 cardamom pod, 1 small cinnamon stick

goat cheese frosting:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon red wine syrup

1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between each.
2. Add the yogurt and mix together until smooth.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt
4. On low speed, add in the a third of the flour mixture. Once blended, add in half the wine. Repeat until all of the flour and wine is incorporated.
5. Divide between two oiled cake pans and bake at 325°F for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
6. Let cool on a wire rack. While cooling, make the red wine syrup. Combine the sugar, wine, and mulling spices in a small pot and cook on medium heat. Let boil until reduced by 1/4.
7. To make the frosting, mix together the butter, goat cheese, and red wine syrup until smooth.
8. To assemble: Once the cake and syrup are cooled completely, brush each layer generously with syrup. Spread 1/3 of the frosting on the bottom layer, add the second layer on top. Heap the rest of the frosting on top. As you spread it out, some will seep onto the sides. Use this to spread around the sides of the cake.

If you’re a lover of heaping piles of sweet frosting, this might look like a scant amount of topping. Since the red wine syrup keeps the cake very moist, I prefer a thin coating of frosting. The goat cheese flavor comes through strong; delicious, but not with the sweetness of buttercream! If it’s a thick sweet frosting you desire, I’d suggest adding 4 ounces of cream cheese and 2 cups of powdered sugar to the frosting mix.

Have a merry twelve days of Christmas and a happy new year. May this chocolate, goat cheese, and spiced red wine bring some sweetness to your season. Celebrate heartily these twelve days in which we honor the embodiment of our Lord, so that we can move on in boldness and courage to carry on the work He began. Doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly, and bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.

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